Real Madrid failed to take full advantage of Atletico Madrid’s cancelled fixture with Athletic Bilbao as they played out a toothless 0-0 draw at lowly Osasuna.
LaLiga leaders Atleti saw their game called off as the snow from Storm Filomena battered the capital, which also delayed Madrid’s flight for the clash at El Sadar.
Whether it was the disruption to the travel or the freezing conditions, Madrid put in a turgid display and failed to muster a single shot on target in 45 forgettable first-half minutes.
There was little improvement after the break – despite two disallowed goals – and Madrid could only move to within a point of Atleti, who now have three games in hand.
The falling snow was the biggest talking point of a dire opening period in which Madrid saw 72.3 per cent of the ball without mustering any effort of real meaning.
Indeed, the only action of note was when Thibaut Courtois smartly parried Oier’s thumping header from Ruben Garcia’s corner.
It took until the 49th minute for Madrid to test home keeper Sergio Herrera, who batted away Marco Asensio’s bending effort with relative ease.
Karim Benzema did bundle home after Herrera brilliantly kept out his initial point-blank header, only for the offside flag to swiftly curtail the celebrations.
There was a sense of deja vu in the closing stages when Mariano Diaz squirmed home from Benzema’s take down but both men were offside when the initial pass was played, as a poor game petered out into a draw.
What does it mean? Madrid feel the freeze
Admittedly, it is pretty rare to see such Baltic-looking conditions in Spain but that alone does not account for Madrid’s insipid display. Zinedine Zidane’s side had a great opportunity to put pressure on Atleti against a team struggling in the relegation zone but it was one they missed.
Madrid forwards go cold
Madrid’s front three of Asensio, Benzema and Eden Hazard just did not click into gear. Asensio offered one shot on target and a key pass, but both he and Hazard – who provided neither a shot on target nor a key pass – were hauled off in the second half. Benzema created a sole chance in the final minute of the match.
Herrera does the job
He had little to do in truth but Herrera was a constant source of calm whenever Madrid posed a threat with a tricky cross into the area and marshalled a stern Osasuna defence throughout.
Madrid’s attentions now turn to Athletic Bilbao and the semi-finals of the Supercopa de Espana on Thursday, while Osasuna visit Granada on Tuesday.
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